Healthcare: Inevitable or Impossible?

Jonathan Bernstein says that healthcare can't fail:


At this point, the main basis I have for believing the health care reform bill will pass (here's my latest while I was at the Dish...for perspective, here's Jonathan clubber Chait's view, and here's Nate Silver's take) is that I would be shocked if Barack Obama, Rahm Emanuel, Nancy Pelosi, and Henry Waxman moved things to this stage without knowing they could get the votes. We're talking about some very skilled pols, here.

I can't think of any historical precedent for a failure this large in a House vote -- a major policy with the full support of the president and the majority party leadership that got this close without winning. The two most notable floor defeats that I remember are the first vote on TARP in fall 2008, and the vote (if I recall correctly) on the rule on the Bush deficit reduction package in 1990. In both cases, radical Republicans defected from a bipartisan agreement, in both cases between majority Democrats and a Republican president. And in both cases the policy eventually passed.

Meanwhile, Karlyn Bowman of the American Enterprise Institute takes her own look back at history:

"The public mood is generally sour," Bowman said. "I can't think of any other big piece of legislation that had so much opposition" and later passed, she said.

They're both right!  Where does that leave us?  At a defining moment in American legislative history . . . the Mothra v. Godzilla, irresistable force v. immovable object, rock v. hard place of policymaking.  It can't pass and it can't fail.  Yet it must do one or the other.

All I can say is, pass the popcorn.


Presented by

Megan McArdle is a columnist at Bloomberg View and a former senior editor at The Atlantic. Her new book is The Up Side of Down.

Never Tell People How Old They Look

Age discrimination affects us all. Who cares about youth? James Hamblin turns to his colleague Jeffrey Goldberg for advice.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Never Tell People How Old They Look

Age discrimination affects us all. James Hamblin turns to a colleague for advice.

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

Video

Pittsburgh: 'Better Than You Thought'

How Steel City became a bikeable, walkable paradise

Video

A Four-Dimensional Tour of Boston

In this groundbreaking video, time moves at multiple speeds within a single frame.

Video

Who Made Pop Music So Repetitive? You Did.

If pop music is too homogenous, that's because listeners want it that way.

More in Business

Just In